# Make key signatures super simple

#### AAT65

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Took me a while to figure that the fourths and fifths of the scale get you help you figure the sharpsand flats I think...
As a guitarist it’s very easy to work out the sequence of sharps and flats because of this.
They down in 4ths for the sharps, so you start with F# is 1st string fret 2, then C# is down one string (2nd string fret 2, up two frets for G# and D#, up two frets for A# and E#, up two frets for C#.
For flats they go up in 4ths, so start with Bb 11th fret 2nd string, up a string to Eb, down two frets for Ab and Db, down two frets for Gb and Cb, down two frets for Fb.
Then if you know the rules for naming a key from its sharps or flats you’ve got a mnemonic for all the major keys on two strings of your guitar. (Sharp keys - the last added sharp is the M7 of the key, so the key name is a semitone higher. Flat keys - you just need to know one flat is F, after that the name of the key is second last flat in the key signature.)

#### AAT65

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Every letter is represented by the sum of both keys

The Db/D set
Bb Eb Ab Db Gb - F# C# = 7

The Ab/A set
Bb Eb Ab Db - F# C# G# = 7
Which is just to say that when you sharpen a flat note you get a natural and when you sharpen a natural you get a sharp…

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Which is just to say that when you sharpen a flat note you get a natural and when you sharpen a natural you get a sharp…
I more pointing out that all 7 letters get used be tween the two keys that share the same letter.

For example, if D has two sharps then the other key that shares the D letter (Db) will have the other 5 notes (letters). It's all about the seven letters.

D has 2 sharp, C# and F#,
That leaves 5 letters because it always sums to 7, so
Db has 5 flats Bb Eb Ab Db Gb

Note the two key use the enharmonic equivalents F#/Gb to make it work. Fortunately the key of Db is rarely if ever used.

Did you notice all keys move in perfect 4ths.
C F Bb Eb Ab Db F# B E A D G

See how the word B E A D and Bb Eb Ab Db account for 8 of the 12 notes used. Helps in memorizing.

Also notice the cycle of 4ths is used, not the cycle of 5ths.
The cycle of 5th has its own usage and rap.

Very few songs use the cycle of 5th, one of them is Hey Joe.

##### Tele-Afflicted
ASATKid, this would be good stuff for me 60 years ago, I pretty much play I IV V7 and throw in a demolished chord to impress people. I did play guitar in Jr College Jazz band but we were not very good. Wish I had been serious about music back then instead of playing bars.

#### teletail

##### Friend of Leo's
I think you jumped at conclusions rather quickly, because you misunderstood me.
But dude, do your thing, It's great you're doing it. Keep it alive.

I also have 58 years of guitar behind me, It started with the Beatles on the '64 Ed Sullivan Show. and I attended college jazz classes for four years in '84, and to really understand it, I rewrote all pertinent school info with my own definitions, and that is a continious thing for me. I also have taught privately since '89 and as a tutor in a high school big band jazz class for 5 years. It's still my main income at 68 next to my SS. I did not like tutoring, they were all about Avenge Sevenfold and bands like that, music class was a way for them to get out of an academic class. They took advantage of my not being the real teacher and not doing teacher directives. It was like, if you want to learn jazz I'm here. I got at least one interested student per session. But one on one works best for me, I'm not a cop. I do like to share, it's not the first time someone has commented like you did, I mean I picked up on the confrontive nature of your post, I just have to shake it off and be my best me.
i like you. You're a funny guy. You argue with just about everyone that responded, but call me confontive (the word is confrontational). Don't fret though, you're going on my ignore list so I don't inadvertently confront you again.

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
It is neat, but in the heat of battle it’s faster just to know your scale shapes and intervals that the shapes make on the fretboard rather than notes.

On the fretboard I think in terms of intervals. If I’m on an Abmaj7 or whatever less used key, I immediately know that the 2nd fret on the E, the 9th on the A, etc are no-go way before they register as Gb.

I actually had to edit this post because it’s slower in words than it is with fingers.
I agree 100%, this kind of stuff is never in my head when playing. In fact it's sort of a learn it and forget it thing.

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
@ASKAat, I understand the concept of enharmonic equivalents. That does not confuse me. What confuses me is how ‘all 12 keys’ as shown in your OP does not include the key of C…no flats or sharps. The enharmonic equivalents are not the problem.
I now understand that you assumed that everyone would start the count with the key of C..no sharps and no flats….was a given, right? Imho, ‘simple’ would include that key of C In an apparent manner so as not to confuse anyone at all. THAT is ‘keeping it simple, stupid‘…ime. We all know what assuming does, eh?
I suppose this little ’7’ can be of use.…even for a stupid one such as myself. IF I want or need to know what is contained in that little trick, I can use my experience as a guitarist to find out. I realized when I was 12 that the guitar lays out so many pertinent facts and concepts in a very simple way that very few instruments can.
Yes, I should have include C.
For me KISS means simply simple, not the more popular and rude simple stupid. That is insulting.

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
i like you. You're a funny guy. You argue with just about everyone that responded, but call me confontive (the word is confrontational). Don't fret though, you're going on my ignore list so I don't inadvertently confront you again.
I looked and don't see all these arguments. I had a difference of opinion with Wally and I left it with "I'm glad you know and learned this stuff", a friendly thing to say.

I have way more likes on this thread than I have dislikes. Someone likes this stuff. And I say thank you to them.

Also, I'm not shutting the door on you. That's not my style regarding music concepts. I just want everyone to be OK with me sharing ideas, which I will continue to share if I have something worthy of sharing.

I hope you come around to see I've done nothing wrong.

#### GearGeek01

##### Tele-Holic
If you back up, I think something more important than learning key signatures is to know the note names on the fretboard... learn them so well someone can touch your neck at random and you can call out the exact correct note name (naturals, sharps and flats.)

Here's a chart I give to all my students...

I would say learn your notes, and learn one simple do-rae-mi major scale (over all 6 strings) and you'll be good for the next bit of info...

I'd also suggest for new players... totally skip anything and everything to do with theory... unless you want to be bogged down learning Chinese... Learn how to play first and you'll have a common form of reference if you ever do need to know anything about theory...

I learned jazz from Robert Conti via private lessons in the mid-1980s... his whole teaching style is "No Modes, No Scales"... another of his mottos is "learn to play jazz by playing jazz"... not by getting lost in the minutia of theory...

I have taught dozens to play guitar and I do not start them out in the theory ditch from hell

Most rock music was written by complete illiterate musicians who do not write out their ideas on the Grand Staff. They turn on the recorder, improvise a bunch of cool stuff off the top of their head... no theory

I once had a student who was new to the guitar, but has played violin in the orchestra in high school. He brought me a Metallica TAB book and wanted me to read it and interpret it for him... He honestly thought the Metallica guys were the ones who wrote and created the TAB book. I don't think I ever convinced him of reality... Hal Leonard, Mel Bay and others hire (pretty much) a master's degree holding music graduate who's main instrument is most likely PIANO to write and transcribe the TAB for guitar music. Metallica does NOT write music like Bach or Beethoven did...

Pretty much it's a chord diagram... put your fingers here and there... and strum... no theory needed whatsoever...

With any unknown there is a shadowing mystery based in the unknown... why is it there if we don't need theory to physically PLAY the guitar? That is the puzzle and many people get lost in the theory rabbit hole. If you're a beginner (or even an old guy wanting to improve) theory is NOT your door...

PRACTICE and getting the instrument in your hands will bring results. If the guitar stays in the case all week, you're not gonna make any advances. Don't think because you pay for lessons it's some kind of unicorn magical fairy dust sprinkled on you... I've had student pay for lessons for months and the same story every week "I didn't practice this week"... after a few weeks of that, I drop them as a student. If they don't want to try, it is a waste of my time to try to pound it into their closed guitar case.

The first purchase toward better playing after you buy your first guitar would be to get a guitar tuner. You need one of those a lot more than you need theory. My theory is... if it's not in tune, doesn't matter how much head knowledge or theory you know... I have a theory that you need to go to the store and buy a tuner. Then your "cowboy chords" (C, F, G, E, A, etc) will actually sound right. That is the only proven theory to make your chords sound better... TUNE IT...

I teach by "chord shapes"... depending on the "geometry" of where your fingers are placed correctly on the neck, move a couple frets with the same fingering, you have another chord. I can teach you how to play everything in the Real Book 5th (or 6th legal) edition using 16 jazz chord shapes. Jazz is actually quite easy if you are willing to put in the practice time to get your brain and your fingers to communicate. You need to commit the chord shapes to your long term memory. For example, if the charts says "Amaj7" above the staff... all you need to know is the chord shape to play a major 7th chord... you don't need to know any of the hows or whys that the chord is what the chord is... the goal is to play... not get lost learning Chinese...

When I did go to college and study music theory in the classroom... I knew it so well that my college professor had me grading the papers of other guitar players in the class. I also got an A+ in the class... and I do not play (ever) considering music theory while I( am improvising...

I have been playing guitar since 1975. I got my first guitar on Christmas morning, 1975, and had my first guitar lesson the very next day. Then for the first 14 years of me playing guitar I took lessons. I met Robert Conti in Jacksonville, FL in the mid-80s. I moved to L.A. in the later 80s, and met and studied with Phil Upchurch at his home in North Hollywood, then for 2 years I took lessons from Ted Greene at his apartment in Encino.

There are dozens and dozens of free Ted Greene lessons (now that Ted has passed away back in 2005) on the Ted Greene Tribute page... if you want a challenge to your playing (no matter your skill level) This would be a great place to find a challenge...

Scroll around on that website, there is a ton of free guitar playing info on there...

My best tip >> Play first -- theory later, or never...

The goal is to play, right?

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#### kilroy6262

##### Tele-Meister
Key signatures are easy as the number 7.

F has 1 flat Bb
F# has 6 sharps
1+6=7

Bb has 2 flats
B has 5 sharps
2+5=7

Eb has 3 flats
E has 4 sharps
3+4=7

Ab has 4 flats
A has 3 sharps
4+3=7

Db has 5 flats
D has 2 sharps
5+2=7

Gb has 6 flats
G has 1 sharp
6+1=7

That's it, all 12 keys, sweet.
Now do you have a way to deal with people who insist on calling Bb A#? Or Ab G#?

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
If you back up, I think something more important than learning key signatures is to know the note names on the fretboard... learn them so well someone can touch your neck at random and you can call out the exact correct note name (naturals, sharps and flats.)

Here's a chart I give to all my students...

View attachment 1033329

I would say learn your notes, and learn one simple do-rae-mi major scale (over all 6 strings) and you'll be good for the next bit of info...

I'd also suggest for new players... totally skip anything and everything to do with theory... unless you want to be bogged down learning Chinese... Learn how to play first and you'll have a common form of reference if you ever do need to know anything about theory...

I learned jazz from Robert Conti via private lessons in the mid-1980s... his whole teaching style is "No Modes, No Scales"... another of his mottos is "learn to play jazz by playing jazz"... not by getting lost in the minutia of theory...

I have taught dozens to play guitar and I do not start them out in the theory ditch from hell

Most rock music was written by complete illiterate musicians who do not write out their ideas on the Grand Staff. They turn on the recorder, improvise a bunch of cool stuff off the top of their head... no theory

I once had a student who was new to the guitar, but has played violin in the orchestra in high school. He brought me a Metallica TAB book and wanted me to read it and interpret it for him... He honestly thought the Metallica guys were the ones who wrote and created the TAB book. I don't think I ever convinced him of reality... Hal Leonard, Mel Bay and others hire (pretty much) a master's degree holding music graduate who's main instrument is most likely PIANO to write and transcribe the TAB for guitar music. Metallica does NOT write music like Bach or Beethoven did...

Pretty much it's a chord diagram... put your fingers here and there... and strum... no theory needed whatsoever...

With any unknown there is a shadowing mystery based in the unknown... why is it there if we don't need theory to physically PLAY the guitar? That is the puzzle and many people get lost in the theory rabbit hole. If you're a beginner (or even an old guy wanting to improve) theory is NOT your door...

PRACTICE and getting the instrument in your hands will bring results. If the guitar stays in the case all week, you're not gonna make any advances. Don't think because you pay for lessons it's some kind of unicorn magical fairy dust sprinkled on you... I've had student pay for lessons for months and the same story every week "I didn't practice this week"... after a few weeks of that, I drop them as a student. If they don't want to try, it is a waste of my time to try to pound it into their closed guitar case.

The first purchase toward better playing after you buy your first guitar would be to get a guitar tuner. You need one of those a lot more than you need theory. My theory is... if it's not in tune, doesn't matter how much head knowledge or theory you know... I have a theory that you need to go to the store and buy a tuner. Then your "cowboy chords" (C, F, G, E, A, etc) will actually sound right. That is the only proven theory to make your chords sound better... TUNE IT...

I teach by "chord shapes"... depending on the "geometry" of where your fingers are placed correctly on the neck, move a couple frets with the same fingering, you have another chord. I can teach you how to play everything in the Real Book 5th (or 6th legal) edition using 16 jazz chord shapes. Jazz is actually quite easy if you are willing to put in the practice time to get your brain and your fingers to communicate. You need to commit the chord shapes to your long term memory. For example, if the charts says "Amaj7" above the staff... all you need to know is the chord shape to play a major 7th chord... you don't need to know any of the hows or whys that the chord is what the chord is... the goal is to play... not get lost learning Chinese...

When I did go to college and study music theory in the classroom... I knew it so well that my college professor had me grading the papers of other guitar players in the class. I also got an A+ in the class... and I do not play (ever) considering music theory while I( am improvising...

I have been playing guitar since 1975. I got my first guitar on Christmas morning, 1975, and had my first guitar lesson the very next day. Then for the first 14 years of me playing guitar I took lessons. I met Robert Conti in Jacksonville, FL in the mid-80s. I moved to L.A. in the later 80s, and met and studied with Phil Upchurch at his home in North Hollywood, then for 2 years I took lessons from Ted Greene at his apartment in Encino.

There are dozens and dozens of free Ted Greene lessons (now that Ted has passed away back in 2005) on the Ted Greene Tribute page... if you want a challenge to your playing (no matter your skill level) This would be a great place to find a challenge...

Scroll around on that website, there is a ton of free guitar playing info on there...

My best tip >> Play first -- theory later, or never...

The goal is to play, right?
This is way beyond the scope of what I was talking about, good stuff but it goes deeper into the whole than my little sliver of "theory" I shared.

My best tip I got from Bruce Forman in a clinic,

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Which is just to say that when you sharpen a flat note you get a natural and when you sharpen a natural you get a sharp…
Kinda,

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Now do you have a way to deal with people who insist on calling Bb A#? Or Ab G#?
Tasers work well

#### JL_LI

##### Poster Extraordinaire
@GearGeek01 is absolutely right about the need to know the locations of all notes by name up and down the neck if you’re reading music. I find knowing scales by number more useful when improvising or even when trying to construct a solo. This allows me to play in any key, major and minor and also in the modes I use. I always know where the minor third is, where the augmented fifth is, or any note on or off the scale. I know my landing notes for the key and the key of any chord in a song. I know which passing notes to use and avoid.

It’s a very different mind set playing improvisationally from reading music like I did in band and orchestra. One should be familiar with as many ways to play music as possible. One isn’t necessarily better than another but some are indispensable at least some of the time.

#### klasaine

##### Doctor of Teleocity
Silver Supporter
Most of these posts have little or nothing to do with the op.
Kat posted what is really just a cool little trick for learning key signatures. Nothing more, nothing less. If, like me, you've already learned it - cool. If you haven't, maybe, depending on your learning style, it could help. Or, maybe it could help someone you know who's not getting it.

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
There are many roads to "Dollywood".

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Most of these posts have little or nothing to do with the op.
Kat posted what is really just a cool little trick for learning key signatures. Nothing more, nothing less. If, like me, you've already learned it - cool. If you haven't, maybe, depending on your learning style, it could help. Or, maybe it could help someone you know who's not getting it.
Thank you Ken, very, very much appreciated. You're assessment is spot-on.

I feel some people get defensive when it doesn't agree with how they learned. But I believe there are many roads to Dollywood. (humor)

I feel most methods show one way to do it and never encourage students to go hunt for other ways to get to the destination.

For example, the CAGED system and how the 5 shapes go up the neck to the octave then repeat. And by mere coincidence the 5 shapes spell out the word caged. And it's always presented in the same 5 shape way. But I stared at it and broke it down and rebuilt it using a way to do the same job but with only 3 shapes. And then I saw a way to get to the same destination with only 2 shapes. I now look at the CAGED info in 3, no 4 ways, that enables me to react musically, in multi ways, same destination, more ways to get there (Dollywood).

I also decided that 2 note and 3 note structures work the best for me. That meant for the most part Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry book, or as I called " the book of tendinitis chords", is now not getting looked at anymore. There are easier ways to get there. This is why I love the modern Jim Hall type players over the big barre chord type players, including Joe Pass and Martin Taylor. The modern players I'm talking favor small 2 or 3 note chords over big block chords and tendinitis chords.

Bill Frisell was my first experience with "less is best". I then noticed this minimalistic approach had become popular and got its traction from the great Jim Hall as their inspiration. Metheny, Sco, Lage, Hekselman, Lund, Moreno and other modern players cite Jim Hall as thee man where these ideas took traction. People like Van Eps also used small structures as a way to play 3 parts at the same time, solo/comp/bass. But he played with big barres and all 3 parts played together. Julian was the first to say "you don't have to tend to all 3 parts at the same time", Julian will just punch in a bit of a bass part in his playing like you never missed when it wasn't there. Very edited or minimalistic compared to Eps or Taylor, two completely different ways to dealing with chord melody. Sco loves his 2 note chords in his chord melody.

Bottom line for me, being minimalistic feels good to me, like comfy shoes. I have a feeling of confidence in executions that I never had before when I thought I had to play with tendinitis chords.
And I do have arthritis in my hands.

Sorry for the meandering brain chatter, it comes from great love for the subject. Back to the main topic =)

Also, sorry for my bad writing skills =(

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#### Volcanicash01

##### Tele-Meister
Key signatures are easy as the number 7.

F has 1 flat Bb
F# has 6 sharps
1+6=7

Bb has 2 flats
B has 5 sharps
2+5=7

Eb has 3 flats
E has 4 sharps
3+4=7

Ab has 4 flats
A has 3 sharps
4+3=7

Db has 5 flats
D has 2 sharps
5+2=7

Gb has 6 flats
G has 1 sharp
6+1=7

That's it, all 12 keys, sweet.
Phew! Too clever for me! I’ll carry on playing by ear!

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Thanks for the likes Wally

#### ASATKat

##### Poster Extraordinaire
Phew! Too clever for me! I’ll carry on playing by ear!
Ear is the #1 tool, I put all this crud aside when I play. Lots of people tell me I play emotionally, thanks (I record and post in Twanger Central's backing track challenge, so people hear me, if they want. and I'll add, emo takes over for my slowhand technique, mostly fast stuff I just couldn't do. That thing you're born with, quick twitch nerves.

Quick twitch nerves are phasing out in our evolution. Like the appendix. The goal of nature is to devolve down to just the brain kept in a jar full of this jelly like stuff, with a Tele strapped to it.

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